Sunday, August 19, 2012

Today's Technology

In order to be as independent as possible, I count on a lot of different technology. The technology we have today allows me to do many things myself which I would not be able to had it not exist. If my accident had happened say 100 years ago, or even 50 years it would make a huge difference on the way I live and how I do things. My life and the things I would be able to do would be a lot more limited. Luckily, over the years technology has grown tremendously and the market for speech recognition software is increasing.

As a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down, I depend on my voice for multiple things which includes using today's technology to be more independent. There are many things out there that can be controlled by voice, although not everything. I've written blog posts before about Dragon NaturallySpeaking, speech recognition software that I use for my computer. The program allows me to train my voice so that it can recognize what I'm saying and identify my speech patterns. Also, I can create different commands based on things I say often or passwords that I use daily. It is how I type, search the web, write papers and blog posts, and communicate with others in different parts of the world. Dragon has given me the independence I need to have full access to my computer by use of voice. I also use voice activation to control my TV in my bedroom. Click here to read a post about Dragon NaturallySpeaking and other things I control by voice.

One thing that I've been wanting for a while, especially since the technology is out there, is to be able to run my cell phone using my voice. For the longest time I've had what many people may referred to as "ancient" cell phones. I started out a few years ago with one that just had numbers and in order to text you have to figure out which letters coordinated with which number. I never had any reason to text so it didn't matter as much. Later on, when I started texting more, I switched to a little bit more user-friendly phone that had a keyboard. My nurses and PCA's typed out all of my text messages.

Seeing all of the newest technology of smart phones develop lately had sparked my interest in trying out a new phone; one that allowed me to be more independent. Obviously I wouldn't be able to use the handy touchscreens or press buttons but many new phones have incorporated voice activation software. The two phones that intrigued me the most were the iPhone 4S and the Droid Razor. After doing a bunch of research about the two online, a week ago I went to Verizon wireless to check them out. I ended up buying an iPhone 4S because it had Siri built-in. I really like it because I can do all of my text messages by voice. It recognizes me fairly well but does have a few drawbacks.

Although it's a huge step up from my last two phones, I'm not able to just fire away commands and start dictating without someone pushing a button first. When searching online I actually couldn't find a cell phone that is completely voice-activated. However, I've really enjoyed being able to ask Siri to schedule appointments, set reminders, send text messages, and see what the weather's like. It's given me another level of independence that I didn't have before.

If you have any suggestions about other speech recognition/voice-activated products you think I'd be interested please let me know!



sarah said...


I was talking to my hubby about your post and he told me about these Kickstarter projects that you might be interested in. -- not sure if this would work for you at this time.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried a BlueAnt device? My husband is a quad and uses this. He can make and receive phone calls without having to first touch the screen of the phone to activate it or activate Siri. It's like a Bluetooth headset but you talk to the BlueAnd device instead. He can tell it to call people in his phone's contact list.